Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern holds up graph showing New Zealand's COVID-19 vaccine performance 'just for the memes'

In what was our third alert level announcement since the latest Delta outbreak, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared to try and break the seriousness of it all by giving graphic-savvy Kiwis the chance to create a meme of her. 

Holding up a chart showing the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations in New Zealand compared to Australia, Canada, the US and UK, Ardern accepted the inevitable that the sign she was holding up would eventually be digitally edited to look as though she was holding up something else. 

"You know that I love to hold up a good graph, just for the memes," she joked.

Ardern isn't the only victim. National leader Judith Collins had several memes created in her honour after she recently posed for a photo in front of an empty wall space where a painting of the late Sir Winston Churchill once hung in Parliament.

On a more serious note, Ardern touted the ramping up of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in New Zealand, with 90,757 doses administered on Thursday - the biggest daily total to date. More than 3.11 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered to date, and of those, 2 million are first doses and more than 1.1 million are second doses.

"We are vaccinating at an extraordinary rate," Ardern said, when asked on Friday if she plans to contact Pfizer to deliver more vaccines to prevent us from running out. 

"We do receive our doses from Pfizer weekly and you'll recall that we did flag that we start getting very large shipments in October, and in the intervening period you'll know that we've modelled around very high rates, but what we're seeing at the moment is extraordinary, so we're working hard on a strategy at the moment to accommodate that growth."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern holds up graph showing New Zealand's COVID-19 vaccine performance 'just for the memes'
Photo credit: Newshub

But the vaccine rollout hasn't exactly been smooth sailing, with New Zealand having sat at the bottom of the OECD. Just counting first doses we're 79th, ranked alongside Guyana, Belize and Kazakhstan. 

The Government says this is because Pfizer was chosen as the primary vaccine and therefore had to wait longer. 

"We chose to go with Pfizer," Labour minister David Parker told The AM Show on Friday. "We could have gone earlier if we had chosen other vaccines. We made the right decision to go with Pfizer. As a consequence, it has been slower to start."

National MP Simon Bridges told The AM Show the rollout has been "appalling". 

"The Government should fess up to that a little more than they do in public. What we've got to do now is have a much more  urgent, innovative vaccine rollout."

The Opposition has frequently pointed to comments by Ardern and COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins in 2020 that claimed New Zealand would be at the "front of the queue" for vaccines.

Ardern, holding up the meme-worthy graph at her press conference, said New Zealand is catching up to the world. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern holds up graph showing New Zealand's COVID-19 vaccine performance 'just for the memes'
Photo credit: Supplied

"This black line is New Zealand plotted against Australia, Canada, the US and the UK, against their peak periods of vaccination, and it's against the percentage of population to try and make it a fair comparison," she said.

"You can just see New Zealand skyrocketing and in contention at the moment to beat some of the peaks of Canada. 

"Our goal at the moment is to vaccinate more people than any other country in the world and at this rate, New Zealand is doing very, very well."

New Zealanders aged 30 and above can book their COVID-19 vaccine right now. The rest of the population will be able to book from September.